The Why of Trade Shows

Every once in a while,  someone will tell me that they don’t go to trade shows,  either as an attendee or an exhibitor,  because they simply don’t have the time.  My response to that is that time spent at a trade show is always worth it,  both as an attendee and as a vendor.   I admit,  I’ve spent more time as one than I have the other,  but I feel like I also have some insight into what attendees get from a show because I’ve met and talked with so many of them over the years. So,  if you haven’t been to a trade show yet,  or haven’t been to one recently,  here is my short pitch for why you should be attending trade shows,  either as an attendee or as a vendor.

If you’re an attendee,  a trade show is a great place to make connections,  both with fellow decorators and with employees of the suppliers with whom you want to work.  A trade show will almost always have a robust slate of seminars,  so it’s also a place where you can learn more about disciplines you already do,  or get a start on trying something new.   It’s also a place to brush up on your business skills,  be it sales and marketing,  using social media,  or figuring out how to communicate your pricing.

If you’re a vendor,  there’s no better place than a trade show to connect with new and current customers.   Depending on the show,  you may be able to sell on the show floor,  which has the potential for the dispersal of a large amount of inventory in a short amount of time.  A trade show can also be a terrific way to establish a presence in a part of the country where you may not have a facility.  It’s also a place to meet industry media and establish connections with industry stars.

Attending a trade show is definitely worth the time and money, whether you’re an attendee or a vendor.  Shows like DAX Chicago and NNEP EmbroideryMart look for venues that offer affordable accommodations for attendees.   Some shows will also offer load in methods for vendors that minimize the cost of bringing a booth and product to sell to the show.  The first thing to do is to take a look at the shows you might want to attend or vend at,  and then compare pricing with what’s being offered.   Your aim should be to find a show that will allow you to accomplish your goals without breaking your budget.

If you’re wondering where EnMart will be in the next few months,  we will be at DAX Chicago May 3-4 and highly encourage everyone to join us in booth 701.   We will also be at the NBM Meadowlands Show in New Jersey in July.

Stabilizer Secrets: Types of Stabilizer

Once upon a time,  some years ago and on another blog, we offered a series of posts about stabilizer.   The goal was to enumerate the types of stabilizer,  discuss why specialty stabilizer existed and why it was used,  and generally explain stabilizer to help our customers who purchased it use what they purchased more effectively.

Fast forward to 2019,  and we’ve added some new stabilizers to the mix, and definitely a number of new customers,  so it seemed worthwhile to revisit this series with updates as required.  As Mary Poppins (the original,  not the Emily Blunt version) advised, the best place to start is the very beginning,  so we’ll start with a brief overview of broad categories of stabilizer.  Subsequent posts will deal with specialty stabilizers,  why stabilizer weight matters,  how the materials used to create your stabilizer make a difference in the finished product and how stabilizer and fabric work together for successful embroidery.  The goal,  by the end of the series,  is to leave you with an understanding of the importance of stabilizer, and the ability to choose which stabilizer you need for which project.

At the most basic, stabilizers can be separated into two categories,  cutaway and tearaway.  As the names imply,  one type (tearaway) can be torn,  while the other type (cutaway) requires cutting with scissors to be removed. Every type of stabilizer falls into one of these two categories,  with the exception of water soluble,  which requires water to be removed.  Water solubles also tend to be toppings,  used to keep stitches from sinking into pile fabrics,  or used for standalone projects like freestanding lace.

A lot of embroiderers like tearaway backing because removal can happen fairly quickly,  since the excess stabilizer can simply be torn away.  A lot of the efficiency and quality of a tearaway can be shown by how quickly and cleanly it tears. A tearaway stabilizer that doesn’t tear cleanly will leave fuzzy edges that can fray or just make the embroidery look messy.   You also want a tearaway that stabilizes and holds stitches but which requires only a minimum amount of force to tear.  If you have to yank hard to tear away the excess,  you risk pulling out stitches or distorting the finished product.

Tearaway stabilizers are generally offered in light-weight,  medium-weight and heavy-weight options.  The medium and heavy weight options may also often be called “hat” or “cap” backing.  These are the weights that will most often be used when adding embroidery to a hat.   The cap backings are generally heavier, stiffer and more paper-like,  so they tear cleanly and easily.

Unlike tearaway stabilizers cutaway stabilizers require a little more work to remove. Cutting away the excess stabilizer is the most common method of removal,  and cuts can be as close to the stitches or as far away as desired.  Some embroiderers will cut their stabilizer to slightly larger than their design before they embroider,  which lessens the need for cutting after the stitch-out is finished.

Cutaway stabilizer is often used with lighter or stretchy fabrics as it is sturdy and provides the fabric with increased stability.   This type of stabilizer is also a popular choice for heavy weight fabrics like sweatshirts.   A 2.5 oz. weight is considered to be a universal or multipurpose cutaway and,  for some embroiderers,  is the only stabilizer they use.

While it is tempting to continue this discussion with an in depth look at the types of specialty stabilizers available,  each of which fall into one of these two main categories,  I think we’ll leave that for another post.  Stay tuned for the next entry in this series,  which will discuss specialty backings,  why they’re used, and how they help you create better embroidery.

For Gifts or Souvenirs Remember the Remembears

What’s cuddly and cute,  easily personalized and a great gift or souvenir?   If you answered a Remembear,  you’ve obviously already seen the adorable new embroiderable stuffed animals that EnMart now carries.

Like the popular Cubbies line,  which has been a staple at EnMart for the past several years,  Remembears have a zipper in their bottom and a stuffing pod which can easily be removed for decoration.  The material of the animals is suitable for embroidery,  as well as sublimation and vinyl.  The tags on Remembears say they are hand wash only,  but we tested one in washing machine on the delicate cycle and it came through without an issue,  so the Remembears can be washed,  albeit gently.

One characteristic of the Remembears worth noting is their large size.   These animals are 16 inches tall and offer a larger sewing field.   As the picture with this post shows,  the size difference can be quite striking.   Remembears are definitely a good option for any sort of display or memento,  as the size of the animals makes them stand out noticeably.  Theyre also a good option for larger size fonts or more wordy quotes,  as there is more space on which to work.

You should also keep in mind that Remembears offer some specialty items like the angel bears, which are bears with wings and gold or silver noses.   The angel bears are an ideal option for a memorial,   as they contain a small pocket which could be used to hold a portion of a loved one’s ashes,  or a small memento of that person.   An angel bear could be a lasting memorial to someone who’s gone,  that not only can be displayed,  but also hugged.

The variety of Remembears available means there are a lot of options for sales to different groups and organizations.   The cow could work for a dairy or ice cream shop. The moose or the wolf could work as school mascots or to commemorate a graduation.  The giraffe and the zebra would be great offerings for a zoo.  A natural history museum would love the green triceratops.   The possibilities for these animals are limited only by your imagination.

Since Remembears can also be decorated via methods other than embroidery,  they offer a flexible personalization option.   Buy some sublimation supplies and sublimate a photo or complicated design.  Get a heat press and try some rhinestones.   And,  for those that work with embroidery,  Remembears are a great blank canvas just waiting to be decorated with your favorite thread.  The possibilities are endless,  and the Remembears are here,  at EnMart,  waiting for their furever homes.

Using Photos to Make the Sale

One of the basic tenants of sales is that people have to know what you have to sell if they’re going to want to buy.   It’s so basic that people often forget that knowledge is part of the equation.  Particularly when selling something like a decorated garment,  a picture can often be worth a thousand words.  The question is where do you put those pictures so your customers see them,  and how do you use those pictures to impart a sense of your expertise and what you can do for those who choose to work with you?

One way to get the message out about what you can do is Pinterest.   As I’ve said before,  Pinterest is about aspiration and getting ideas for items that you want to make or buy.   Having Pinterest boards for your company (these are EnMart’s boards) allows you to showcase different aspects of what you can do.  You can create boards around a certain event or theme,  or make boards that feature a particular product decorated in different ways. If you have Pinterest boards,  make sure they’re featured on your website and social media feeds,  and refer your customers to them in your printed literature.

Another way to help spread the word about what you can do is to share pictures of what you make with your suppliers.  Or you can use a supplier hashtag (#IrisThread, for instance) to alert your suppliers to a picture that might interest them. I know,  here at EnMart,  we love getting pictures of products that were made with supplies purchased from us.  We also share those pictures on our Facebook feed (22,000+ fans) and our Twitter feed.  Granted not all the people who like any of your suppliers are going to be in your potential market spheres,  but some of them might.  Plus,  having your work shared by your suppliers gives you a bit of decorator credibility.   Your work is good enough that it’s being presented as an example of what can be done.

As a writer for industry magazines,  I know I’m always looking for photos to illustrate the pieces I write,  so this can be another fertile ground for pictures of the items you create.  Most of the time,  when an article writer needs pics for a piece,  they will put out a call on social media,  asking for pictures of work that centers on a particular discipline, type of garment or theme.  If you are planning to submit a photo for publication,  remember it needs to be at least 1 MB, and 300 DPI.  Magazines can work with less,  but the odds of your picture getting used are better if you stick to those guidelines.

One last bit of advice,  which goes for any photo you use anywhere.  Make sure your photos are the best quality they can be.   Yes,  you can take a good photo with the cameras on most phones these days,  but it still might be worth investing in a camera,  especially if you’re offering your products for sale online.   Pictures are often the first impression a customer forms of your products, so make sure you are, visually,  putting your best foot forward.  Taking quality pictures may be more time consuming and perhaps more costly,  but the benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks.

Happy New Year

EnMart will be closed on Monday, December 31 and Tuesday, January 1,  in honor of the New Year.   We wish all our friends and customers a happy,  prosperous and productive 2019.

We will re-open on Wednesday, January 2, 2019

EnMart’s Tips and Tricks for Success

Every company is different,  and each has its own way of doing things,  and its own little insider secrets.  Since the end of 2018 is close at hand,  I figured it might be a good time to share a few tips for getting the most from your relationship with EnMart,  so you can start 2019 off on the right note.

Tip #1:  Look for the discounts and the specials –  Iris UltraBrite Polyester Thread,  the king cones anyway,  definitely falls in this category.  Did you know if you purchase 12 or more in any combination of colors you will receive a dollar off per cone?  That takes the wholesale price of a dozen cones from $76.20 to $64.20.  There are also quantity discounts on certain items as well.   Make sure to check the “Qty Breaks” tab on the sublimation products and on blank patches.  Purchasing a few more items than planned could be very helpful to your budget.

Tip #2: Sell what others don’t sell – EnMart offers a few products that other suppliers don’t offer.   One such product is the Iris Thread mentioned previously.  Another product that is available only from EnMart is the Remembears.  Offering a product your competitors don’t offer gives you an advantage in your particular marketplace.  If you seize the opportunity early,  you can lock in and dominate the customer base for those products.

Tip #3: Order early –  We at EnMart pride ourselves on our speedy shipping and strive to get orders for goods that don’t need to be manufactured out the same day. If you want prompt shipping of your orders,  it’s best to place them as early in the day as you can.   Our official cut off time for same day orders is 2 p.m.  In practice we may stretch that a little,  but it’s still always best to order sooner rather than later.

Tip #4: Time Issue – Talk To Us – We know that sometimes orders get placed at the last minute, or a customer brings you a rush order and you need supplies now.  We’re familiar with the panic that can cause,  and we’re willing to help,  if you let us know.   If you have a time sensitive issue with an order,  put a note on the order when you place it,  or contact us to let us know about your needs.  We can’t promise to be able to meet every request,  but we certainly can’t meet any of the ones we don’t know anything about.

Tip #5 – Follow us on Social Media – Want to be the first to know about specials or sales?  Eager to hear about new products before your competitors?  EnMart generally spreads any news we have to share through our social media feeds or by e-mail.   Follow EnMart on Facebook or Twitter,  or visit our boards on Pinterest to stay up on what’s happening at EnMart.  You can also join our mailing list to be sure you receive our e-mails.

Merry Christmas!

 

EnMart will be closed on Monday, December 24 and Tuesday, December 25 in honor of Christmas.   We wish all our customers and friends the happiest of holidays and the merriest Christmas possible.

No Sale, Just Low Prices

If you’re anything like me,  you’ve probably gotten roughly one million Black Friday e-mails by now.   First it was teasers.  Then it was doorbusters.   Somehow Black Friday the day became Black Friday the week (or several weeks),  and it seems that everyone wants to offer you a deal or a special or a once in a lifetime can’t miss opportunity.

One of the things we get asked quite often is why EnMart doesn’t offer free shipping or do more sales.   There are a lot of reasons why we don’t,  but the most basic one is this – we don’t because everyone else does.   It’s not that we’re contrarian,  it’s more that our goal is to offer our products at prices that produce a profit for us while still being budget friendly for our customers.  Also,  when there’s a blizzard of offers already out there,  standing out from the crowd can be tough.

Still,  we get that free shipping and sales are expected and desired by a lot of our customers,  so I wanted to address in more detail the reasons why we don’t offer either of those things on a regular basis.  One reason we don’t tend to offer free shipping more often is the fact that,  in our experience,  when we have offered it,  orders have not increased.   If we offer a free shipping coupon for orders past a current price threshold,  customers often neglect to use it,  even if they meet the threshold.  Order size also doesn’t tend to increase when we offer free shipping.   Since the whole goal of offering something for free is to encourage more people to buy,  when that doesn’t appear to motivate the behavior we want,  we try something else.

EnMart also does a lot of work to keep shipping costs and product prices budget friendly for our customers.   We offer a variety of shipping options,  including allowing customers to ship via the U.S. Postal Service or on their own accounts.  Our shipping costs are also based on the shipping rates offered to our parent company.  Since that company ships a large number of packages daily,  EnMart customers benefit from rates that are lower than they might otherwise be.

As for sales,  we like sales as much as the next company,  and have tried,  over the years,  to come up with some fun sales that offered good deals.  Still, as with the free shipping scenario,  we find that sales don’t tend to increase the volume or size of orders we get.   They also don’t seem to be a prime motivator for those who are placing orders.  So,  we end up back at our basic premise,  that good service,  good products and budget friendly prices are a larger motivator for our customers.

Please keep in mind that we do offer sales and specials when the mood strikes us.   The best way to keep up to date on what sales and specials are available is to follow us on Twitter or Facebook,  or to sign up for our mailing list.   If we have a special offer running,  we will send out an e-mail and announce it on social media.

Also,  if you have any comments or suggestion for a sale you’d like to see us offer,  or a thought about our current policy,  we’d love to hear from you.   Feel free to comment on this blog post,  leave us a comment or a message on social media,  or contact us through any of the available methods.

Happy Thanksgiving!

EnMart will be closed on Thursday,  November 22 and Friday, November 23 in honor of Thanksgiving.   We will re-open for normal business on Monday,  November 26.

Of all the things we are thankful for this year,  you,  our friends and customers,  are on the top of the list.   We are grateful for your support,  your business and the wisdom and creativity you share with us.

We wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Featured Friday, Information, Inspiration, Instruction 10/19/18

Because Autumn is winding down (in some places),  Winter is closing in (not quite yet, please), and it’s the end of another work week,  I thought I’d share some of the things that have amused me, inspired me or educated me recently.

First on the docket,  a cool way to create a hand embroidered look with machine embroidery.  Many people like the timeless look of cross stitch,  but don’t want to count the stitches.   This post from Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine discusses how to create the look of cross stitch on your embroidery machine.  It’s a pretty extensive tutorial.

Second on the list,  the news that there is now a way to create sublimated items without a sublimation system.   Our own Tom Chambers tells you all about how to sublimate without a sublimation system in a terrific blog post on the SubliStuff blog.  Tom has been writing a couple of posts a month about various sublimation topics for that blog,  so if you do sublimation or are interested in learning more about sublimation,  it would be a good idea to bookmark the SubliStuff blog so you can come back to it later.

Third at bat,   a post from Erich Campbell,  part of his Ghost and the Embroidery Machine series for the Mr X Stitch blog.   In this post,  he’s talking about how to make machine embroidery and digitizing accessible for everyone.   He gives some great ideas for how people on limited budgets can learn the skills they need to start their own machine embroidery businesses.  It’s a terrific post that outlines many of the options available to those who are interested in embroidery.

Fourth in line,  although I don’t usually plug posts I write myself when I do these round-ups,  I’m going to make an exception this time.   I did a series on pricing for this blog and I think,  if I do say so myself,  it’s worth a read.   Part 1 talks about gathering data.  Part 2 talks about actually setting prices and how to communicate pricing info to your customers.   Part 3 talks about dealing with customers who want to argue or negotiate price.

Finally,  I need to point out this video of the 2RegularGuys podcast today.  The guests were Carolyn Cagle from Strikke Embroidery and Luiz Vitor Neto Mendes from Vitor Digitizing.   It was a fantastic and fascinating interview with a lot of food for thought in it.  Definitely worth a watch,  and I’m not just saying that because Carolyn called me one of her favorite people in the world at the end of the interview.  The link takes you to the video on Facebook.   When it’s available on their site as well,  I’ll update the post.